Reprinted from "Shoot", 10-19-98

Location, Location, Location

by Robert Goldrich

For an in-depth analysis of filming on location, we need to gain input from all relevant segments of the industry -- except for location scouts and managers.

Though clearly ludicrous, such an exclusionary practice is often evident when national, state and local governmental entities seek input to formulate policy that balances the needs of the production community with the public at large.

Representatives from groups such as the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Association of Film Commissioners International are typically invited to public hearings held by city and county councils as well as federal, state and local committees. Also on the guest list to testify are union leaders and, in the case of the spot biz, officials from the American Association of Advertising Agencies and sometimes even the Association of National Advertisers.

But rarely is there testimony from commercial location professionals, who logically should be among the first sought out. According to veteran spot location scout Dennis Thomann -- a member of the AlCP/West associate membership steering committee -- part of the reason for being overlooked is simply that location managers and scouts have maintained no formal trade association. He and some Southern California colleagues are looking to change that.

"There have been major meetings of key government subcommittees on national, state and local levels," related Thomann. "The meetings are designed to get insights from the industry on location filming -- and invariably, location scouts aren't even represented.''

Thomann now sits on an interim steering committee for the fledgling yet growing Association of Commercial Location Professionals (ACLP), a group of some 100 scouts and/or location managers, primarily from Soruthern California. Thomann would dike to see the group form liaisons with such well-established bodies as the: AICP, the California Film Commission and the Enlertainment Industry Development Council, which is the public/private sector not-for-profit entity overseeing the joint Los Angeles City/County Film Office.

Thus far, the ACLP is already seeing the benefit of its members communicating with each other. Much of this is taking place on the Internet, via e-mail, as scouts and managers help solve problems for one another, suggesting location alternatives. Another scout, when booked, makes others aware of jobs he fumed do~vn due to a scheduling conflict. This sharing of information has proven invaluable and strengthens the sense of community, observed Thomann. "So much of this has been made possible by the lnternet," he said. "It enables people to come together, something that would have been hard for us to do otherwise with tight schedules and the logistics involved."

Thomann sees such coming together as important in the big picture. "We hope that we can develop a voice for the location community," he explained.

And the power of a unified voice has once again been demonstrated, in this week's page one story, about the elimination of the 10% royalties apportionment for spots, instituted last year by the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP). Commercial music houses banded together earlier this year to form the Association of Music Producers (AMP). AMP then entered into a dialogue With ASCAP and helped bring about what's now a rescinding of that 10% policy—a policy the industry regarded as unfair.

"We think we can do some good." related Thomann in reference to ACLP. "We can help to make location shooting more efficient and help to maintain and enlarge upon a film-friendly environment for commercials."